Throughout Miracles, Inc.,
T. J. Forrester adroitly juggles our estimation of his death row protagonist/narrator. Is Vernon L. Oliver really a murderer? Or is he an innocent man who has been framed? Can we trust his telling of the story? Or is he a prevaricator, fabricating a fantasy in order to gain our sympathy? Does he have any redeeming qualities? Or is he simply a garden-variety sociopath? This combination of uncertainty and possibility is what keeps us turning the pages. Because, darn it anyway, despite everything, we kind of like Vernon L Oliver.
Sure, he is a swindler. We know that from the get-go. He freely admits to feeling no remorse over posing as a faith healer in order to con cash out of people desperate for a miracle. "Hope," he notes as he passes the collection plate during a Tabernacle Carnival's healing service, "That's what we sold...
Beyond the Book
Death Row Syndrome
According to Amnesty International's 2009 report, the USA's 37 legal executions in 2008 placed it fourth in the world after China (1718), Iran (346) and Saudi Arabia (102). However, this ranking needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as it does not adjust for population size; and does not take into account additional executions that may have taken place away from the public eye in many of the countries listed. Having said that, it is nonetheless interesting to note that the USA is one of the few so called developed nations to maintain the death penalty in both law and practice, as can be seen by this map.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the death penalty as inhumane, most especially that portion of it that keeps inmates...